Author's Note:

Here's the deal. Way back when I was a wee little thing, I'd finished this story. Done, done, done.

Then I grew a little and decided it could use a revamp, so I began reposting overhauled chapters.

Then I grew a little more and got busy with life, so the revamps were put on hold.

Then my other story, "Samantha", got ripped off. It was found on another site under another author's name. This was very upsetting. VERY upsetting.

I adore this story. With all its flaws and ridiculous scenarios, I adore it. I now fear plagiarism as I never have before.

So, I took it down.

Maybe if I grow some more I'll get over it. Time will tell.


Define normal.

Being in the majority? Following all the typical standards? Or, for all of the math gurus of the world, perpendicular?

Well, my life doesn't fit into any of those categories.

But, hey, if normal is being raised by three criminals, having never gone to school, and watching people get killed on a regular basis, then I've got it covered to hell and back.

It took me a little longer than it should have to realize my upbringing was… unusual, to put it nicely. I've never really known the traditional lives of characters in books and movies firsthand, and it struck me as suspiciously resembling science fiction. What was that love thing, again? Wait, weren't most little girls encouraged to play with guns and knives? Please, go over this 'mom' and 'dad' concept for me one more time.

I was over ten years old before it all clicked, and I grudgingly accepted that I was nothing more than an unwanted child who had the misfortune of landing on a random doorstep in a very shady neighborhood. I'll never know if my parents were purposefully trying to be cruel or not, and I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who doesn't even have the decency to ditch an infant at an orphanage, or at least in front of a house without bullet holes in the siding, was nothing but a waste of oxygen. You'll never see me wistfully staring out a window, wishing for dear ol' mum and dad to come strolling up the front walkway. In all honesty, being genetically bound to someone is worthless to me. Really, who gives a damn?

I've been told I come across as negative. I don't see it.

It seemed like my fate was pretty much sealed the second my life was placed in the hands of three men who could write set of encyclopedias on what it meant to be unscrupulous, but I guess God decided I needed to be punished some more. Oh, sorry, I meant I was lucky. One of the men had a soft spot for babies (or was suffering from some sort of vitamin deficiency), and he kept me from rotting on that doorstep. From what I've been told I've gathered it was only supposed to be temporary, but, wow, sixteen years, five months, and twenty-three days later, here I am.

Yeah, I know I sound a tad bitter with my situation. I'm not. Those three guys are the only thing remotely resembling family that I've got, and this is home sweet home to me.

"Eddie, so help me, one of these days I will relish shooting you full of holes and watching every last drop of blood drain out from your body!"

Alrighty, so maybe sweet isn't the greatest word to use.

Those endearing words had come from Robert, Mr. Tough-as-nails who, for some reason, had taken on the role of rescuing and then essentially raising me. You know, making sure I had something to eat, teaching me how to use guns, stealing clothes for me until I got old enough to do it myself –the basics.

Robert is a badass in every sense of the word, except when it comes to me. Feel the love. He was my bodyguard of sorts as I was growing up, and that's probably the only thing that kept me alive. His reputation in this neighborhood is one spawned out of fear, and rightly so. He has more talent than I've ever seen with guns, and if he wants you dead, there's nothing to do except make your peace with god. He doesn't miss; he doesn't hesitate. When it comes to guns, he is the best.

And thus, I was granted immunity from all those evil baddies who prey on little girls. Mess with me and you mess with him, which will always result in serious pain or death. When I was eight I was already too much of a smartass, and as a result I got roughed up by a gang of newcomers who didn't realize I had a very protective, very armed man looking for me. Robert showed up right before the perverts decided to take it a step beyond pure violence, and that's probably the angriest I've ever seen him. As for what happened next… well, bloodbath seems too mild of a word.

The moral of the story: keep Robert happy.

I was rifling through a history textbook while stretched out on the living room couch when Robert strode into the room, swearing up a storm. Yeah, that's right. He doesn't walk –he strides. Natural confidence at its best. Or is that arrogance? Probably both.

Well, at least his appearance fits the part. Rather perfectly. Rich brown skin, eyes so dark they look black, shaved head, and tall. He was barely nineteen when I was placed on that doorstep, and, over sixteen years later, he's still in great shape. He lacks the bulk that some of the muscle-men around here have, but he can definitely hold his own, even without the aid of his guns. He's got impressive speed and skill, and, around here, that can make all the difference.

"Having issues?" I asked, leaning my head backward so I was looking at him upside down.

"I'm gonna kill him," he answered. "Simple as that."

"Mmm-hmm." If Robert didn't threaten to kill Eddie at least once a week, something was wrong. They always fought, though I highly doubt Robert will ever be the one to cause Eddie to take his inevitable one-way ticket down to hell. Unfortunately.

"What bullshit are you fillin' your head with now?" He'd knocked my legs off the couch none too gently, and was now sitting next me looking at my textbook.

I gave him a cheeky smile. "The Industrial Revolution."

"Like I said, bullshit. Why waste your time?"

He knew the answer to that, so I didn't bother responding. Having never even seen the inside of a classroom, I felt I needed to learn something on my own. Though, I probably wouldn't even make an effort if I wasn't bent on being better than everyone. At everything. I can't stand the idea of someone knowing something I don't. One of the snobbier aspects of my personality.

"You are never gonna need to know that garbage. No one gives a damn around here if you can spout details of American history."

"European." When he raised an eyebrow at me skeptically, I continued, "The Industrial Revolution is European history, not American."

He scoffed. "Even worse. If you're gonna throw away your time, at least stick with your own nationality."

Robert isn't an idiot by any means, despite his lack of a high school diploma. Hell, he was the one who taught me how to read and write, math up to Algebra, and so on. I can't even envision him flunking or struggling with any classes. I can, however, see him having stopped caring at some point. As though getting an education suddenly just didn't matter to him anymore.

"You had a chance at school, Robert. I didn't. Not my fault you dropped out."

I swear, he actually looked the tiniest bit offended. "I did not. Apparently pulling a gun on a teacher was against the rules."

"Yeah, no way you could have possibly known they'd kick you out for that."

He cuffed me upside the head, but it wasn't out of malice. We hit each other to show affection. Really. I tried to smack him back, but he stopped me, as always. Try as I might, I never got the upper hand with him. Made sense, because he'd taught me basically everything I knew about fighting, but still. I'd like to be able to really slug him, just once. Ya know, to let him know I care.

"Aww, kiddos, play nice." I looked backward again, and saw Eddie grinning stupidly behind me. Unlike Robert, he doesn't stride. I don't think he can stride. He kind of… ambles along. Seriously, if you want Robert's polar opposite, Eddie is definitely your man.

In appearance alone, Eddie is everything Robert isn't, and not in a good way. Robert has the dark and mysterious thing going for him, which I suppose is what attracts women to him in flocks. And Eddie… poor Eddie drives them off. Besides being pale, short, scrawny, and hairy, he was pushing mid-forties rather ungracefully. The years had not been as kind to Eddie as they had been to Robert, and that much was glaringly obvious. His potbelly was slowly expanding, probably to make up for his gradually receding hairline, and already flecks of gray were making their stand in his consistently chaotic black hair. And yes, he truly does manage to look scrawny and have a potbelly, and be hairy and balding. Don't ask me how.

Before this turns into a bash-Eddie-fest, I have to submit to the cliché, and concede that he has very striking eyes. They're bright blue one day, and a bright green the next. And I'm not talking about the generic switches most people boast about when their eyes only vary to different shades of teals. The change in Eddie's eyes is so dramatic that you'd swear he was wearing colored contacts. When I was little I'd watch his eyes, determined to see the swap from blue to green for myself. Eddie indulged my failed attempts, mostly because I was more of an amusing toy to him than anything else.

I'd say that's a pretty good sum-up of our relationship, actually. He thinks everything is a joke, and that I am just the biggest joke of them all. I used to find him funny, but he's crossed that line into annoying territory. Wow… that's really all there is. He says something obnoxious, I retaliate, he says something more obnoxious, I threaten violence, he submits until the next time we come in contact. And thus the cycle continues.

Hmm. I guess he manages to irritate everyone. A gift or a curse?

"Move over," he ordered, standing next the couch. "You're in my spot."

The statement was true enough (where was Eddie if he wasn't slouched in front of the television with food and beer?) but I just stared up at him with disparaging eyes. I didn't do what he told me. He was well aware of that fact.

"Ya know, girlie, sometimes I get the feeling that you don't have the same undying adoration for me that I clearly feel for you. Just last night I let you have a piece of my pizza."

In reality, I had taken his food without asking, but I let that go. "I'm not moving," I said flatly, shifting my attention back to my book. He wouldn't challenge me. He'd just find somewhere else to sit, smiling all the while.

Eddie has no skill in fighting, and seemingly no interest in standing up for himself. He's the guy who's first to run for the hills when things get dicey. He has virtually no backbone, and doesn't care who knows it. As dangerous of a combination as that might sound in this neighborhood, it has kept him alive. Who wants to beat up on guy simply because he seems to be cheerful while testing his skill of how well he can grate your nerves?

Besides me, I mean.

I know this sounds harsh, but it makes one wonder what sort of purpose Eddie serves at all. Why would anyone want engage in business, much less live, with him? Basically, he's a classic cheat and a liar with zero morals to speak of, and very good at what he does. Beyond that, I know he keeps all the small and non-brute aspects of breaking the law running smoothly, which makes almost no sense because he's one of the sloppiest guys I've ever met. A messy accountant gone rogue, perhaps?

Whatever. I don't pay attention to what he does, or what any of them do. I don't care. Obviously I've picked up on things after living with for sixteen years, but it is amazing how much in the dark I really am. Hell, I'm still not entirely positive why they decided to live with each other in the first place. I find it kind of creepy, even if it was a move of convenience.

Flopping down in a recliner, Eddie refused acknowledge that I was trying to pay no attention to him. "Well, this is a charming little get together."

I glared at him briefly to make him aware I disagreed, and he only laughed in response. Damn, I couldn't even ignore the man properly. But he had a point. Though Eddie did, Robert wouldn't exactly make it a point of loafing about the living room without a reason.

Eddie apparently interpreted my glare as encouragement to continue. "All we need is Mitch, and our little family will be whole."

Ugh. Mitch. Criminal number three.

Robert finally spoke up. Robert had a habit of being unnervingly quiet at times, though you'd never get the impression that he was shy. "He'll be here soon enough."

Ah, Mitch was coming. So that's why they were collected in the living room. I was just unintentionally caught in their nefarious planning, trying to learn history. Not that I'd be allowed to stick around anyways. Why?

In a nutshell, Mitch hates me.

Considering he's in charge, logic says I shouldn't be around at all. But I am, so… sucks to be him. I don't try to make his life easier; I don't try to stay out of his way. Yep, still haven't the slightest why he loathes me so much.

Robert, Eddie, and the demonic presence that is Mitch… makes typical dysfunction look almost appetizing. And sadly, I am no better. I grew up with them, what would one expect?

Following dutifully in our march of weirdness is the fact that I'm a nobody. To be clear, I don't need therapy and my self-esteem is fine. If I weren't so naturally gifted in all aspects, I might be persuaded that I think too highly of myself. (Should I be pointing out that "nobody's perfect," or does that sound way too contrived?) I simply, for all official purposes, don't exist.

I have no birth certificate, no social security number, no written evidence anywhere that I was ever born. That's what a girl gets for being born to crappy excuses for human beings, and then handed over to criminals where having an identity isn't exactly a prerequisite. Doctor visits? School? Friends? Nah.

I wasn't even given a name.

Go ahead, laugh. Eddie certainly finds it hilarious that I spent the first two years of my life devoid of hanging onto a name with any sort of consistency. I think during that time my roommates were going through a "Do we keep it?" stage, and any label they gave me was very fleeting. I was a very confused toddler, shockingly enough. It was a dog, of all things, that saved my sanity.

Eddie had gotten a mutt off the streets, and named it Daniel (some joke about Daniel Boone –I'm not really sure what it was, nor do I care). Anyway, Eddie hadn't had that dog for a week before Mitch got mad and shot the poor thing. Eddie, ever sentimental, immediately claimed he needed a replacement pet. Mitch forbade any more animals, and thus I became Daniel, Jr. Robert softened it a little by calling me Danny and dropping the junior. The name stuck. No comments necessary for the fact that I was named after a dog named after Daniel Boone.

So now I'm Danny. Not Daniel, not junior, no last name.

Just Danny.